It took 16 months to get there, but Strikeforce was finally able to seal the deal on their Heavyweight grand prix tournament last night (Sat., May 19, 2012) in San Jose, California.
Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier" marked the end of the tournament, as well as the end of the division as well, with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) absorbing the majority of the 265-pounders from the organization to deepen their own wells. It was an odd scene, seeing Cormier adorned with a belt he will never get to defend.
Hopefully, none of that takes any of the shine away from a moment that will go down in history as when we saw "DC" officially rise to greatness. It was a massive win for the rapidly rising prospect, who showed the world that he is no longer an up-and-comer...he has arrived.
Gilbert Melendez looked to stake his claim as being the number one 155-pounder in the universe when he took on Josh Thomson in a five-round rubber match for the belt. "El Nino" was able to secure a very close split decision win, but don't look for anyone to be placing him at the top of their rankings after Saturday night.
Follow me after the jump where we'll analyze the list of big winners and lowly losers from Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier."
Daniel Cormier -- It's official. This kid is for real. Okay, it probably was already official, but this dominant decision victory puts him in the mix with the top heavyweights in the world. He was faster. He had better striking. He had better wrestling. Ready or not, UFC, here "DC" comes!
Josh Thomson -- Nobody expected this guy to win. There was no pressure and no real expectations. If anything, the majority of the experts picked Melendez to dominate him. Credit to "The Punk" for not backing down and even coming close to finishing Melendez at the end of round four.
Rafael Cavalcante -- They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Hot, cold, lukewarm, whatever temperature it was, the dish was in the form of a super tight guillotine that "Feijao" was able to cinch in against Mike Kyle, after nailing him with a big overhand right and a nasty knee in the face. The walkout lasted longer than the fight itself. "Feijao" appears to be back.
Chris Spang -- After his brother Andreas came out short at Bellator 69 on Friday night, Chris came out looking to defend the family name. His mission was accomplished, as he jumped all over Nah-Shon Burrell from the get-go. Burrell was willing to meet in the center and exchange from the opening bell...but he shouldn't have been. The disparity in striking was clear immediately. "The Kiss" was able to secure the muay thai clinch and brutally punish his opponent with knees in the face before Burrell finally went crashing to the canvas in a pile of unconsciousness.
Frank Shamrock -- Did you SEE those pearly whites?! Did you?? Everytime Strikeforce hits the Showtime airwaves, I watch Shamrock with anticipation to see if the braces are still there. They always are. But not last night. They were gone! He's still the worst (and we will get to that later), but good for Frank for finally getting the machinery out of his mouth.
Pat Miletich -- He's not the best, but he's decent, and he's done nothing to deserve being stuck between bottom-dwellers Shamrock and Ranallo. Every broadcast, I think he's finally going to snap and rip Mauro's head off for insulting him or correcting him on some point of minutia. He hasn't done it yet, and for that, I've got to declare him a winner for his exorbitant patience.
Gilbert Melendez -- I know, I know. What's Melendez doing on the "Losers" list? He may have won the fight, but he lost the war. Thomson is tough, I'll give you that. But you can't convince me that Ben Henderson or Frankie Edgar would have trouble with him. I'm not buying it. I think they both finish him. Maybe Thomson is just the fly in Melendez's ointment, but if you're gonna declare yourself the best lightweight in the world, you better prove it. As far as I'm concerned, he didn't do anything close to that.
Josh Barnett -- Time will bear out just what this loss means. Cormier may go on to crash through the UFC's heavyweight division like a wrecking ball, and then Barnett will get somewhat of a pass. However, it may signal the beginning of the end. Dana White may have gotten over their past "misunderstandings," but I just don't see him doing much fawning over "The War Master" after this five round butt kicking. I think Barnett will get absorbed, because the UFC can use more depth in the 265-pound division, but he's going to be on a short leash.
Mike Kyle -- It's hard to get too in depth with this one. The fight lasted 33 seconds. Kyle got caught, never recovered and was overwhelmed by a much better fighter. Every loss is a bad loss, but this one particularly unfortunate.
Mauro Ranallo -- I'm not going to let go of this. Ranallo is terrible. I appreciate that he helped you through your childhood and adolescence and explained what was going on to you while you watched PRIDE. You have a sentimental attachment to him. That's fine. But he sucks. In the first prelim bout of the night, he said "gluteus maximus" several times when a fighter was taken down. Later in the broadcast, when a fighter was punched in the nose, Mauro referred to it as his "proboscis." It made me want to mute the TV. Unfortunately, I need to hear some of the things being said. If only there was a radio broadcast.
Frank Shamrock -- He's still Frank Shamrock, with or without the braces. He still stares into the camera like a small child who is mesmerized by the device and what it can do. He still fails to finish thoughts and sentences. He still comes in on the tail end of one of the other boneheads and makes their already terrible sentiment even more terrible. He's just brutal.
What does your list of winners and losers from Strikeforce: "Barnett vs. Cormier" look like? Let us know in the comment section below.